We had the good fortune of connecting with Cleavon Meabon and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cleavon, do you have any habits that you feel contribute to your effectiveness?
I am hardheaded…it’s a habit. I don’t listen to most people…it’s a habit. I take risks…it’s a lifestyle. Sticking to my guns has been the key to my success. It is not always intentional; however, I defy views to achieve things that are beyond me. What has been presented is merely a foundation to build more. There are more innovative ways to do things. You must be a rule breaker to think outside of the box. I have ignored the fragile labels on the boxes that I’ve been put in so that I can create something magnificent and be whole in pieces. Ingenuity is a mosaic of talents coming together for the awe of evolution. My entire career has been a habitual risk of my own creation. This is my blessing and my curse.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My daily mantra is I am a divine pivotal force in the universe here to aid people into personal and collective consciousness. My art is fueled by the need to heal the human condition. For ten years I have honed in on skills to help me transform the psyche through art. I often work with artist that are destitute or trying to make something out of nothing. I understand the desire to be someone and make a difference. Statistically, I should not be where I am in my career. I am a country boy from Wynne, Arkansas born to teenage parents. My childhood was spent in the woods and in the church. We moved often: resulting in me attending 10 schools before graduating high school. I always knew my light was special and that I wanted to make a living out of making people feel better. I grew up singing in church and school choirs. No matter where I went, people discovered my voice. Singing is my freedom and up until adulthood…I thought it was my only ticket in life. After my matriculation through Howard University, I was devastated that I could not complete my degree due to financial lack. It broke my spirit and I stopped performing. Instead I relied on my greatest skill and passion…leadership. I have always been a leader. My grade school teachers would all tell stories of how I started movements on playgrounds, choirs, ministries, small businesses, and anything else I could create from pre-school until now. I transitioned from performer to producer. My productions have delighted and moved audiences along the east coast. I am proud of the success and the failures. BREATHE: The Musical is my most notable work. It is an original musical written, composed, and directed by me that showcases the resilience of Black people era to era. The production is soul stirring and tends to grip its audience by the neck. I first produced the show before a live audience my senior year of high school. Since then, I have gone on to produce theatre and film. I also have significant experience in film, casting, radio, and business development. I consider myself a Vision Engineer because I am gifted at bringing ideas to life for myself and others. These gifts have afforded me opportunities that I could never dream of being from Wynne. Was it easy? Hell no. It still isn’t even as I type this interview. I’ve been homeless, ashamed, broken, and alone all in the name of my dreams. Following your desires is building a life of sacrifice, and you must risk it all. I have rubbed shoulders with a lot of very important people. My mentors have been people I never thought I’d be in the room with, but I’ve never a met a savior. It has taken a great deal of faith, sometimes insanity, and a lifetime of belief to get here…and it still feels like only the beginning. I overcome it all by remembering who the hell I am. I am he that is, was, and will be. If it was done then, it can be done again…and it can be done even better. Maintaining my connection to God through gratitude has brought me this far.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I am a fan of museums, art, and reflection. Come with me. You’ll arrive at the airport and I’ll be there showcasing a brilliant smile. I’ll give you a hug that decimates jet lag and gives you hope for tomorrow. We’ll begin with brunch at The Flying Biscuit…preferably in Midtown. You can have whatever you’d like, but I am going to just eat the biscuits. Afterwards, we can stroll Piedmont Park, because I want to know what brings you here. After ditching the calories, we can feast again at The High Museum. Who knows what will greet us there? Maybe we’ll go high. This is about elevation and innovation, remember? The inspiration from the paintings and sculptures will bring us to Little Five Points. We can dodge cars and trip on sidewalks while basking in multi-dimensional alters. I am a sucker for a game of dress up. You’ll probably ask about the luxury places of Atlanta and want to visit Lenox, Buckhead, or one of the new gentrifications…and that’s cool, we can do that too, but I like the holes in the wall. We can peep through Busy Bee’s and see how the college kids are living…beside that big ass new stadium. It’s a marvel and by then we’ve grown tired. We end the day with a trip to The Georgia Aquarium, where the fish will float us into tomorrow. I’on know…we’ll probably nap the whole time, but I wanted to write something exciting.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
This interview is dedicated to everyone who has crossed my path, good or bad. I appreciate the hand each of you has had in teaching me the lessons that blossomed into the skills I have today. More specifically, I dedicate this to my family and my Cleavisions team (Anais Grant, Terrica Waits, Kiana Waits, Vee Coop). Without you all and your undying support, I would not be able to stand in my desires.
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